AN IRISH STAMP ALBUM
By Michael O. Nowlan
Originally appeared in the TORONTO IRISH NEWS (March 2008 edition)
The 2008 St. Patrick's Day stamp from An Post, issued February 11, was designed by Ger Garland and portrays a line engraving by Leonard Gaultier based on a drawing by Thomas Messingham entitled S. Patricius Hiberniae Apostolous, claruit anno dominium CCCCLVIII. The image has St. Patrick standing on snakes holding his crosier in his left hand while blessing the kneeling crowd with his right. It is another wonderful stamp with which to celebrate our patron saint and Ireland's national day.
Before I move more thoroughly to the new stamps of 2008, the end of 2007 was a busy time for An Post/Irish Stamps with several appropriate new issues. On September 6, An Post revealed the domestic Celtic Cat in an eye-pleasing comic style and positioned their characters as slightly irreverent reflections of familiar aspects of contemporary Irish society. Two 55-cent denominations and two at 78-cents feature the artist's impressions that represent a Kilkenny Cat, a Celtic Tigress, a Fat Cat, and a couple of Cool Cats. Artist Martyn Turner says "the rest of the cats after the Kilkenny one became the Celtic Tiger family - mother, father, and brats."
The cat stamps replace the long-standing annual Flora and Fauna issue at An Post which included butterflies, ferns, ducks, and beetles. Nonetheless, the cats are for one year only and illustrate that stamp production can have a great sense of humour as well as get letters to their destination. These images are superb. The flora and fauna returns in 2008 with fungi.
On September 12 and 18 respectively, Irish Stamps got much more serious by honouring the 150th anniversary of Archaeological Discoveries, San Clemente, Rome and the Bicentenary of the Birth of James Fintan Lalor.
Dominican priest Father Joseph Mullooly, who was born in County Longford in March 1812, went to Italy in 1840 and joined the Dominican Order. After his assignment to San Clemente, he began excavations under the existing church that uncovered a fourth- century Christian basilica, and in 1863 the tomb of St. Cyril was discovered, a most significant archaeological find because St. Cyril is known as the founder of Slavonic literature and is an immensely important figure for the spiritual and political landscape of Europe today. The 55-cent stamp is based on a watercolour from the late 19th century and depicts Father Mullooly in the narthex of the fourth-century basilica.
James Fintan Lalor (1807-1849) was an inspired political writer who awakened a renewed sense of ownership in the land of Ireland in the minds of the dispossessed Irish peasants and their leaders. His work was a rallying cry for all those who were deprived of land and an influence on Pearse, Davitt, and Connolly. Positioned as an extreme nationalist, he went head to head against the political mainstream and left his mark on Irish history. He died in 1849 in Newgate Prison, Dublin.
On October 25, An Post issued a single stamp to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Ireland's Natural History Museum. Built in 1856 as the Museum of the Royal Dublin Society, it is a zoological institution containing diverse collections of world wildlife. The 55-cent stamp design is based on a specially commissioned photograph of the Great Elk from the Museum Collection.
On November 8, 2007, three Christmas stamps were released. The stamps are based on original illustrations, produced in acrylics, of traditional images associated with Christmas - the Presentation in the Temple (78 cents), the Magi (55 cents) and the Adoration of the Shepherds (55 cents). The tatter is a booklet of 25 self-adhesive stamps in which An Post inserted an additional free stamp.
An Post has been issuing Christmas stamps since 1971, and in each of those 36 years the stamps of Ireland have depicted Christmas in its true sense. Commencing in 1971 with a two-stamp issue depicting the Madonna and Child statue by J. Hughes, An Post has a wonderful array of Christmas stamps. The 1972 issue, for example, featured Madonna and Child from the Book of Kelis while the 1973 issue was the Flight into Egypt by Jan de Cock. The stamps have featured designs ranging from fine art paintings, stained glass and sculpture, to images commissioned specifically from a wide range of designers and artists.
A press release from An Post states "the Christmas stamps don't just carry mail, they carry a reminder of all the things that Christmas means." Aidan Murphy, Marketing Manager for Irish Stamps, says "our time-honoured tradition of celebrating the spirit of the festive season continues with our new Christmas stamp issue, featuring iconic religious themes." From the spiritual to the celebratory, from classical imagery to contemporary artistic expression, Ireland takes great pride in its Christmas stamps. Although not directly related to the Christmas stamps, An Post issued a stamp tribute to Charles Wesley on November 15. Wesley's more than 6,500 hymns added to the devotional life, not only of Methodism which he professed, but also the majority of Christian denominations. Notable among Wesleys Christmas hymns is Hark The Herald Angels Sing.
The Charles Wesley stamp brought An Post's program for 2007 to a close. Looking back, it is a great parade of Irish history, polities, culture, and people. The complete list of new issues for 2008 is posted on the An Post website and in Irish Stamps: Collectors News. An Post policy limits new issues to around 40 each year.
The popular wedding stamp, which was first released in 2007, is back in a striking new design of a bride and groom in a loving embrace on their wedding day. In a booklet of 10 self-adhesive stamps, it is a 55-cent denomination issued January 16. The Greeting stamps, also in booklets of 10 stamps, feature two playful patchwork characters, a trumpeting elephant and a juggling frog. They are sure to brighten any greeting card.
The Chinese New Year of the Rat, which was issued January 23, is a beautiful stamp designed by Renze Zhou in a typical Chinese style. It depicts a rat standing on its hindquarters sniffing at a lit candle. It is available in sheetlets of 16 stamps and a three- stamp Miniature Sheet Lunar Pane.
Some of the other stamps for 2008 will feature the Planets, Paul Henry Landscapes, 50 Years of the Credit Union Movement in Ireland, Europa, Beijing Olympic Games, the 150th Anniversary of the first trans-Atlantic cable message from Europe to America, and film making in Ireland. I'll open the next column with a special stamp tribute to the 50th anniversary of the tragic Munich Air Disaster February 6, 1958.
As well as issue stamps, the Irish Post Office publishes Irish Stamps: Collectors News five-six times a year. This little booklet is informative on new issues and always has a short essay on a special feature. The first issue for 2008 has a most interesting story on "The French Art Stamps Series" which commenced in 1961 and continues to this day. An Post also has an Irish Stamps Product Catalogue which lists a range of wonderful stamps and stamp-related products which are great souvenirs and ideal gifts.
Those with enthusiasm for Irish memorabilia do not need to be stamp collectors to appreciate and obtain items from An Post.
To learn more about Irish stamps and the many related products, explore the An Post very user friendly website www.irishstamps.ie or write An Post, General Post Office, 0'Connell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland to get a catalogue and on the mailing list for Irish Stamps: Collectors News. Some items from An Post are available from Canada's National Philatelic Centre, 75 St. Ninian Street, Antigonish, NS B2G 2R8.
The World's Greatest Stamp Collectors
by Stanley M. Bierman, M. D.|
Undoubtedly The World's Greatest Stamp Collectors by Stanley M. Bierman, M. D. remains one of my favorites in the classic philatelic literature. This book which was published in 1981 presents eighteen biographical sketches of the most interesting individuals and collections from the bygone era. In this book, Dr. Bierman brings to the reader a human perspective on stamp collecting. He also in the course of the narrative gives the reader a history of many stamps in the category of the jewels of the rarities.
Among the great collectors chosen for this book are Philippe Von Ferrary, Thomas K. Tapling, King George V, Sir William B. Avery, Henry J. Daveen, G. H. Worthington and Senator Ernest R. Ackerman. Needless to say, although these collectors were from different walks of life, either they inherited enormous fortunes or were self-made businessmen.
Most started collecting at an early age and had good philatelic knowledge_ These collections varied in areas of specialization and were very diverse. Most of these collections were sold by auction afterwards. For example, the Daveen Collection took four years to sell whereas the Crocker Collection was auctioned in nine separate sales. A few of these collections were donated. For instance, the Tapling Collection was donated to the British Museum and is on view in the King's Library and the King George V Collection is part of the Royal Philatelic Collection.
Welcome all readers to the latest edition of our club Newsletter The Fundy Stamp Club News the 20tn issue. The challenge, at least in my opinion, is finding articles that may be of interest to club members and other readers. I have been very fortunate to have received some great ongoing columns, such as The Beginners Circle, by Ron Messenger of Riverview. Ron produced a series of seven articles on stamp collecting basics, which have been run in rotation since the very first edition. Today's column features his article on Stamp Catalogues, which is being reprinted for the third time.
Another on going series of articles produced by Ron Messenger is called Net Stamps, where he features one or more selected internet sites that may be of interest to various collectors. Thank you, Ron for your on-going contributions to the success of our Newsletter.
A more recent ongoing series of articles is entitled The Philatelic Corner produced by Paul- Emile Bourque of Mancton. In these Paul-Emile selects one philatelic book, and provides his review and comments. This is his fifth such edition, and he has selected The World's Greatest Stamp Collectors by Stanley M. Sierman, M.D. This column has certainly brightened up our Newsletter, and a large thank you is extended to Paul- Emile.
The mainstay of the Newsletter is a feature article. Over the past few years 1 have received contributions from a variety of club members, on a wide variety of subjects, from Tin Can Mail to Australia to The Channel Islands to British Smilers to Balloon and Pigeon Post to Lundy Island to the Canadian Postal Museum, and others. On several occasions I have been unable to get a feature article from our local club members, and I have been bailed out by Mr. Michael Nowlan of Oromocto. Michael has bailed me out yet again, with a reprint of his article on recent Irish stamps, produced for the Toronto Irish News in March 2008. This is Michael's third article for our Newsletter, and I thank you very much.
Club meetings have been held monthly since Christmas, with an average attendance of 10, although there are 15 paid members. Short business meetings are followed by a presentation, a display, or a buy, sell, trade session. When presentations are unavailable, we have taken to a one-page display, following the alphabet. This has proven very successful over the past couple of years_ In January, displays on the letter "K" were held, while in February a buy, sell, trade session was offered. The month of March saw displays of the letter "L", while April offered another buy, sell, trade session. The upcoming meeting on May 1 will feature the letter "M".
In other club activities, planning has commenced for the 2008 BRUNPEX, to be held September 20, 2008. More details will be released in the September edition of the Newsletter. The club has three circuit books available each meeting, with more to come as they grow. The web site has also been quite active, and is averaging 100 hits per month, with over 1100 hits in total now.
As the spring stamp season winds down, there remains one final stamp fair at the Park House Inn on Main Street, Moncton. It will run on Saturday, May 3 from 10am to 4pm. The fall stamp fairs will return on Saturday, October 4, 2008.
Remember, join a stamp club, attend a stamp meeting, or a stamp fair this fall. You will be glad you did.
Look for the next issue of The Fundy Stamp News in September Z008.
Don Mills, editor
Your guidebook for philately is the stamp catalog. Without it, your trip would be less informative and less enjoyable. The catalog is your illustrated map, directing you to many stamp attractions and depicting where you are, what you have accomplished, and where you want to be heading.
Since 1867, when John Walter Scott published the modern catalog (a stamp list with prices), a number has been assigned to every stamp issued by every country of the world. Scott publishes U.S. Specialized catalogs and their numbers are used in most other catalogs and price lists in the United States. Scott publishes six volumes of catalogs covering the entire world in addition to its U.S. Specialized Catalog.
But, how do we locate that information for a specific stamp? First, of course, we must identify the country. Having done that, we should determine the year, or at least the general time period, when the stamp was issued.
For U.S. issues, featuring a person, we can easily determine the time period; armed with the date of death for that person and the knowledge that no U.S. stamp has ever honored a living person. The denomination also can be helpful, since postage rates are generally grouped in a certain sequence. We can quickly thumb through the catalog searching for a grouping of stamps with the same denomination, and begin there.
Finally, scan the stamp reproductions in the catalog for one that matches the stamp we are trying to identify. Be certain to compare all elements - denomination, color, perforations, and variations - to be sure you have found the correct listing.
The catalog prices that are listed, even in a current publication, should be considered as only a rough guide. They represent what you might approximately pay for a stamp, and the price for which you could sell it. The condition of any stamp has a great influence on its price relative to the catalog listing. Catalog prices for mint stamps are for those in "fine" condition and only lightly hinged. A stamp considered "superb" might sell for several times the catalog value. And naturally, stamps in less than fine condition will sell for a small percentage of the listed price.
The best way to become familiar with stamp catalogs is through use. Try using a catalog from your local library. Read the beginning of the catalog and you will find that it is filled with information about the catalog format and about stamp collecting.
Then take the catalog and some stamps from your collection and attempt to locate the listing for each. Remember that catalogs are much more than just price lists. They are guidebooks containing information about stamp attractions to make your continuing tour of philately more enjoyalble.
I recommend "The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps" to beginners in U.S. It's packed with information for stamp collecting; colored illustrations for all U.S. stamps, post cards, and stamped envelopes; price guide for U.S. stamps, FDCs, plate number block, stamped envelopes, post cards, and the philately products that USPS offers. It only cost $17:95 for 2001 issue and 14.95 (I think) for 1997-2000 issue.